Chapter 8 – Religion and Philosophy in Ancient India: Charvaka School, Jain Philosophy and Jain Theory of Reality: Seven Kinds of Fundamental Elements

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Religion of the Rig Vedic people was very simple in the sense that it consisted mainly of worship of numerous deities representing the various phenomena of nature through prayers.

  • It was during the later Vedic period that definite ideas and philosophers about the true nature of soul or Atman and the cosmic principle or Brahman who represented the ultimate reality were developed.

  • These Vedic philosophical concepts later on gave rise to six different schools of philosophies called shadadarshana.

  • They fall in the category of the orthodox system as the final authority of the Vedas is recognised by all of them.

Image of Six Schools of Indian Philosophy

Image of Six Schools of Indian Philosophy

Image of Six Schools of Indian Philosophy

Charvaka School

  • Brihaspati is supposed to be the founder of the Charvaka School of philosophy.

  • It finds mention in the Brihadaranyka Upanishad. Thus it is supposed to be the earliest in the growth of the philosophical knowledge.

  • It holds that knowledge is the product of the combination of four elements which leaves no trace after death.

  • Charvaka philosophy deals with the materialistic philosophy. It also known as the Lokayata philosophy- the philosophy of the masses.

  • According to Charvaka there is no other world. Death is the end of humans and pleasure the ultimate object in life.

  • Charvaka recognise no existence other than this material world. Since God, soul and heaven, cannot be perceived they are not recognised by Charvakas.

  • Out of the five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether, the Charvakas do not recognise ether as it is not known through perception.

  • The whole universe according to them in thus consisted of four elements.

Jain Philosophy

  • Like the Charvakas, the Jains too do not believe in the vedas, but they admit existence of a soul.

  • The Jaina philosophy was first propounded by the tirthankaraRishabha Deva.

Jain Theory of Reality: Seven Kinds of Fundamental Elements

  • The Jains believe that the natural and supernatural things of the universe can be traced back to seven fundamental elements.

  • They are jiva, ajivaa, astikaya, bandha, samvara, nirjana and moksa.

  • Substances like time have no body at all. The substance is the basis of attributes.

  • The Jains believe that things or substance have attributes. These attributes also change with the change of Kala (time).

  • From their point of view, the attributes of a substances are essential, and eternal or unchangeable. Without attributes, a thing cannot exist.

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